With over 60-plus teams still playing very meaningful post season hoops, fans in El Paso brace themselves for the summer blockbuster thriller and drama that is UTEP basketball's offseason.
Here are some things to keep an eye on over the next few months.
The transfer market
We've all seen and heard Tim Floyd's rant about college basketball transfers last May, and the truth is it's likely to happen at almost every school, every off-season.
This year though, it seems those numbers might be relatively small for UTEP.
I would project at max, one or two players leaving based on just pure guesses with no sources hinting at any departures. Although as Floyd gladly noted last year, transfers are becoming a huge part of the college basketball culture.
While I feel UTEP won't be hit hard with departures it wouldn't be surprising to see UTEP add a transfer, if possible.
Two spots of immediate need: point guard, and a power forward depth could become two major areas we could possibly see UTEP throwing out offers and official visits to transfers over the next couple months, starting after the NCAA Tournament is finished.
UTEP's scholarship count is a little cloudy, but adding a grad transfer at point guard, and/or power forward come make sense if the perfect situation arises.
The biggest takeaway from UTEP's mid-season resurgence was the fact that UTEP was able to build a core that returns next season. (Barring any unforeseen transfers)
Paul Thomas is UTEP's most improved player, Matt Willms was right behind him with full health, Omega Harris is now an all-conference guard, and confidence was starting to build with Jake Flaggert and Trey Touchet.
And how about Kelvin Jones growth? Wow. The kid is going to get better, and better, and his sophomore season could be a turning point for the big man.
Harris is on the cusp of averaging 20 points per game next year, and is one of the more experienced players Floyd has coached here at UTEP. Expect Omega to get a lot of preseason love and hype that he will end up living up to next season as a polished senior.
Going back to this past October, UTEP had three proven pieces and tons of questions. Looking ahead, UTEP has a nice core returning (barring any unforeseen transfers), with the hard to answer questions coming from Floyd's "Calvary."
Finalizing the class of 2017
UTEP's scholarship situation is cloudy as of now, and even with six commits it appears UTEP is still far from done.
The big question heading into the late signing period will be the status of Ladarius Brewer and if he holds true to his commitment after a stellar senior year. It would be great to ink the 6'6 small forward who had a very productive final year of high school and remove the verbal commit label.
Joey St. Pierre is another late signee addition, and the Miners could also be hot on the trail for more depth at power forward as mentioned in the transfer market. For class staggering purposes, it would be nice to see St. Pierre redshirt this coming season, forming a center tandem with Kelvin Jones in the future.
Keep an eye on JUCO forward Bruce Stevens as a possible late signee or commit as his addition will give UTEP another huge win in recruiting the southern states. UTEP has a number of 2017 offers still out there, but Stevens is the type of body UTEP desperately needs in their front court.
Both Evan Gilyard and Roderick Williams had banner years at their respective schools, and look for both to make the biggest impacts next season.
Kobe Magee also had a nice all around season, and Tirus Smith's frame is intriguing and another name who could help Paul Thomas out at the four spot next season.
Even though UTEP is counting Trey Wade, and Isiah Osbourne as 2017 members, I will not. Either way, both will help out at the guard spot and battle for minutes behind Touchet, Flaggert, and Harris.
- Roderick Williams, SF, JUCO
- Evan Gilyard, PG, High school
- Kobe Magee, PG, High school
- Ladarius Brewer, SF, High school
- Tirus Smith, PF, High school
- Joey St. Pierre, C, High school
We know NMSU, New Mexico, and Washington State are slated for home games, but how does UTEP approach scheduling this time around?
In the past, Floyd would schedule up based on what was returning, and given UTEP has returners who put up miles last season, will Floyd return UTEP to a respectable OOC schedule with brand names?
The Puerto Rico tournament offers potential matchups with Boise State, Florida State, Illinois State, and South Carolina, giving UTEP a semi-challenging OOC tournament once again.
But does UTEP gamble with guaranteed road games, or continue to schedule guarantee home games which were actual disasters last season with losses to teams UTEP paid for win column fillers.
Attendance fell in large part to the Miners poor start to the season, but the out of conference slate gave the casual UTEP fan nothing to circle on their calendar from November until January compared to the early days of Floyd's scheduling.
A home-and-home starting on the road at Arizona, UNLV, Texas Tech, or another Power Five school would be welcoming, and another solid mid-major slate in the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Tournament would also be welcoming for UTEP fans still pissed about last year's schedule.
Scheduling is tough, and whether you believe it or not, UTEP is considered a "Power 5" type of opponent when it comes to scheduling home-and-home in the college basketball world.
It's going to be interesting to see how the 2017-18 schedule looks as UTEP's SOS and RPI have suffered the past two seasons to due to mediocre play, and lack of meat on the OOC slate.
Every UTEP basketball off-season is like a roller coaster ride, and this one looks to be one of the more interesting April through September rides in recent history with so many unknowns in terms of who will make up Floyd's 'Calvary'.